The city of Nazca is located in the heart of the Peruvian desert, 447 km from Lima. This famous region was home to a distinctive civilization called the Nazca culture, which developed around the 1st century. However, this ancient culture disappeared, leaving a riddle yet to be solved.
The Nazca Lines are one of the world’s greatest mysteries composed of over 1,100 geoglyphs of animals, plants, geometrical figures, and straight lines carved in the Nazca plateau. However, the purpose of these lines remains uncertain.
Different archeologists theorized of them being an astronomical calendar, and others even emphasized the fact that this could be a landing site for extraterrestrial spacecraft. Nevertheless, these ancient figures may be inclined to religious purposes according to recent studies carried out by Yamagata University in Japan.
These famous geoglyphs were studied by many international and Peruvian archeologists, being Maria Reiche, a German-born Peruvian mathematician, the one who dedicated her lifework to the understanding and preservation of the Nazca Lines, granting them recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994, four years before she passed away due to cancer complications.
In addition to the Nazca Lines, other discoveries are related to this ancient Peruvian civilization, as the gloomy trophy heads which purpose keeps intriguing historians and archeologists since there’s a constant debate about whether these objects were trophies of war or used for rituals.
However, besides the dark side of this civilization’s ancient customs, they were recognized for the artistic expression presented on their pottery and complex textiles. Apparently, the Nazca people adopted techniques from previous civilizations as known in the Topara and Paracas cultures.
For those looking to know more about the communities that marked our country, visiting the Peruvian desert is the way to start. As aforementioned, many mysteries surround this civilization, but as far as we know, they also influenced the development of following cultures.
What to See?
Although Nazca is a small town in Southern Peru, it was the economic and ceremonial hub to many ancient civilizations. The region comprehends different archeological sites, so if you were thinking the Nazca Lines where the only thing to see here, let us show you otherwise:
1. Nazca Lines
The Nazca lines are a group of over 1,100 geoglyphs located in the Nazca Pampas created between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D. These figures were in use even after the Nazca civilization. The purpose of these carvings is unknown, but many archeologists point at them as a ritual center and astronomical calendar.
Some of the Nazca Lines extend to over 350 meters, as others are as large as 5 meters long. Among the most recognized are the killer whale, the monkey, the astronaut, the hummingbird, the condor, and the spider.
If you wish to see these incredible geoglyphs, the best way to do so is by taking a flight. However, there’s an alternative where you can see three of them on a viewing tower located at the Panamericana Sur highway.
2. Cantalloc Aqueducts
These are a series of 45 aqueducts found 4 kilometers away from the city of Nazca, of which around 35 of them are still functioning. The Cantalloc Aqueducts were used to guarantee the water supply to the land crops of the ancient Nazca farmers, where they used to cultivate corn, cotton, potatoes, and even more vegetables and plant species.
3. Chauchilla Cemetery
A burial place was found 30 kilometers away from the Nazca city, where several archeological artifacts and mummies were buried in a fetal position, covered in embroidered cotton and painted with some type of resin that helped the preservation of the bodies.
These mud-brick tombs date back to 200 A.D. and are attributed to the Nazca people, though some archeologists think they may be from the ancient Huari culture. However, this last theory couldn’t be confirmed due to the lack of evidence.
The Chauchilla Cemetery is recognized for holding a system of open-sky tombs. Unfortunately, little is known of this burial site since most of the relics were stolen by grave robbers.
4. Cerro Blanco
It is considered South America’s highest dune since it sits at an altitude of 2,080 meters above sea level, offering an outstanding view of the Peruvian desert and the Pampas Galeras National Reserve, where the highest concentration of vicuñas live.
It takes about 3 hours to get to the summit of this dune; the trek is considered moderate to hard since you’d be walking on fine sand. However, once you reach the top, you’ll realize all that hard work has been paid off.
5. Maria Reiche Museum
Also known as la Casa Museo Maria Reiche, it’s located 27 kilometers from the city of Nazca and exhibits the research work carried out by this famous archeologist.
Maria Reiche dedicated over 50 years of her life to the understanding of the Nazca Lines; thanks to her hard work, she raised awareness to the preservation of these ancient geoglyphs.
The Maria Reiche Museum is located in the 421,3 km. of the Panamericana Sur highway. That was her research center and home throughout those years.
6. Cahuachi Archeological Site
The ancient structure of Cahuachi dates back to the 1st century. It is located in the Nazca river valley, 28 kilometers away from the main city. It was also built by the Nazca civilization and served as a ceremonial center.
Thanks to the hard work of many archeologists, different artifacts were found in this construction, where textiles and clothes stand out due to their complexity, patterns, and colors.
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Weather in Nazca
The Nazca region is one of the aridest places in South America. Thereby, the Nazca Lines have been nearly untouched and well-preserved until the current date. Rainfall is nearly nill in this region, which is why it is recognized as the “Eternal Summerland.” Likewise, temperatures range between 20°C and 35°C during summertime and can drop down to 5°C in winter. Learn more about the weather in Peru here.
How to Get to Nazca?
Currently, the only way to get to Nazca is by bus travel since this city’s airport is only used for the flight over the Nazca Lines. However, this famous region is easily accessible from the most in-demand cities of Peru.
Lima is the starting point for most travelers. Therefore, if you’re planning to visit this world mystery, consider taking a bus ride through Peru’s most famous destinations. Moving around by bus is considered a more enriching travel experience rather than by flying to different cities. Besides, it is significantly cheaper than commercial flights.
While going on a bus trip through our country, you’ll be immersed in the authentic scenery of the Peruvian territory. There are different routes to take and a variety of places worth knowing. Nonetheless, if visiting the Nazca Lines is a must for you, consider going south of Lima. Learn how to Discover Southern Peru here!
Would you like to know more about Peru? Here you’ll find all the information you need for your trip. Our local expert team has prepared the most complete informative guides for you! Also, if you’re eager to know Peru at its fullest, check our travel packages and live an authentic experience with Viagens Machu Picchu.